A story of how retreating back helped these women move forward.
There’s a lot of stress that comes with joining a fast-paced, high-growth, tech start-up. Anxiety stems from long working hours, work-life imbalance, as well as working remotely due to the pandemic. The all-female Medical Operations Management Team (MOMT) at SteadyMD hopes to change the start-up perspective for the positive.
Led by Senior Vice President of Medical Operations, Sharon Vogel, SteadyMD’s MOMT consists of a group of seven women, in management and leadership positions, with the higher ranking among them mothers. It’s an almost unheard-of phenomenon in the tech world, let alone a start-up company. In fact, a Women in Technology report from 2019 stated half of startups have no women on their leadership teams at all.
Furthermore, when the pandemic erupted in the spring of 2020, roughly 3.5 million mothers with school-age children either lost jobs, took leaves of absence or left the labor market altogether, according to an analysis by the Census Bureau.
But the MOMT at SteadyMD have each other’s backs—literally and figuratively.
“It’s a well-known fact that individuals can only give their best if they are operating at their best. For most, that means a healthy balance of work and life through all of its ebbs and flows. I’m grateful to be part of a team who understands that, and to be led by a team of women who live and breathe it every day,” states Michelle Kukawski, Director of Program Operations.
Recently, MOMT members gathered in-person for a retreat in Florida. It was a chance to take their online relationship offline, get personal, and discuss the professional experiences of what led them to their current roles. Despite powering virtual healthcare, they realized how hard it was for them to connect with each other virtually from all over the U.S. So, abiding by COVID safety protocols, they came together for a few days of team building.
“We’re building a culture that’s the backbone of the company, creating a real work-life integration where employees can bring their authentic selves to work,” said Dr. Sachi Horback, VP of Clinical Talent and Success. “My colleagues know when my kids have sports games coming up. I’m open about sharing pictures and personal anecdotes, and I receive positive feedback from that.”
During the retreat, the women discussed how they find balance in their lives outside of work, connecting to the SteadyMD mission and vision, and disrupting the norm of the start-up reputation for the better. For example, SteadyMD supports its employees on furthering their education by allowing a flexible work schedule.
“My education influences how I do my job,” revealed Abigail Paras, Director of Clinical Talent and Success. “I’m in the process of getting my Master’s Degree in Public Health. It’s a balancing act, to say the least, but the best part of working at SteadyMD is having a team that supports each other in growth.”
“Separately from all of that, the Med Ops team always finds a way to make things work. Everyone is comfortable diving in, trying new ideas, and having a flat hierarchy to make sure we achieve our goals.”
Hannah Johnston, Director of Licensing & Credentialing, agreed with this perspective.
“I came to SteadyMD in a state of burnout after almost 10 years with another healthcare organization. Being here has opened my eyes to the possibility of a better workplace and community. In my time at SteadyMD, I’ve not only been faced with new and exciting challenges, but I’ve felt heard and respected. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have a role in building a better work environment in the healthcare community,” said Johnston.
They all agreed how working at SteadyMD has been an empowering experience, forcing them to find balance and shape a culture for those that come after them.
“We can now propagate that for others. For the next 5-10 years, everyone on the team is going to be entering the same life stage that Dr. Horback and I are in. It’s so important for us to be in this role and shape that culture in a growing and thriving start-up,” said Vogel. “We show the other MOMT members that we use our lunch breaks every day to take a walk, get in a workout, or just decompress. We want to encourage them to take that time for themselves and to ensure their teams do the same.”
The women came back from the retreat feeling connected, rejuvenated and aligned, ready to move forward 10X faster than before. The credit is given to having a life outside of work. It drives loyalty and better performance, because employees don’t feel like they have to sacrifice or compromise other aspects of their life.
“Every day from 2pm to 2:30pm I have blocked off my calendar to pick my kids up from school. If I have a meeting I must take, I’ll call in from the car. But my colleagues know that’s my focus for those 30 minutes,” said Vogel.
SteadyMD has an open culture of sharing things about employees’ personal lives outside of work during work–pets, kids, engagement proposals, etc. It’s a personal culture of valuing responsibilities outside of work that not every organization has. It’s also a culture that attracts the best and brightest minds.
Laura Berry, Vice President of Operations said, “I accepted my job nearly six years ago, when SteadyMD was just forming because I believed in the vision the founders had for the future of healthcare. The reason I’ve stayed is because each year I have had the opportunity to help turn that vision into reality. We are disrupting the healthcare industry in a positive way, tackling major issues in healthcare: access to care, quality care, clinician burnout, and more. These issues are not solved overnight, but the amazing team that we have built is agile, supportive, and is not afraid to dive in head-first.”
What does the future hold for MOMT? Mentorship. Strong bonds. Shared success. And inspiration for those that come after them.
As the “backbone” of modern healthcare, SteadyMD aims to give all employees the autonomy, resources, and support they need to build the future they imagine. This enables our patients, clinicians, partners, and colleagues to realize their goals with dignity, purpose, and pride.
Top: Sharon Vogel
Top left to right: Dr. Sachi Horback, Maegan Barbee
Bottom left to right: Abigail Paras, Hannah Johnston, Laura Berry
Not pictured: Michelle Kukawski
Are you interested in joining SteadyMD and making a real impact in the healthcare industry? See our current openings.